Even in the context of debates regarding such public art as Rodin's Balzac statue and Richard Serra's "Tilted Arc" in New York City, "it's rare to find a hullabaloo as ridiculous as the one over Richard Haas' trompe l'oeil mural, which is to adorn the Olin Terrace retaining wall," writes arts critic Paul Gerard. The $60,000 commission, to be funded in large part by the city of Madison, "is as mainstream as they come - not the stuff over which revolutions are fought," writes Gerard, who calls the New York artist "the crowd-pleasing type" and his design a pleasant work that "will turn a dingy wall into a gloriously innocent Italianate terrace." Yet the mural has become an issue in the mayoral race between challenger Mary Kay Baum and incumbent Joe Sensenbrenner. "The whole affair implies that Madison's image of itself as a cultural city is a sham," concludes Gerard. Mural supporters persevere, and Haas completes the work in 1987. It remains today, but is significantly obscured by Monona Terrace. Haas (www.richardhaas.com) continues to work and last year completed three murals in New York.